Better Practices
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Better Practices

The Postman Data Team’s Hub-and-Spoke Model

Designing a team structure for scalability, efficiency, innovation, and communication

  • Type 2: A team that works behind the scenes and helps Type 1 teams reach their goals

The Hub-and-Spoke Model

While doing research to help us choose the most potentially effective team structure, we came across the hub-and-spoke model. This model dates back to the 1950s and was often used in the transportation industry as a way to distribute goods across various consumers. (You can read more about the history of the hub-and-spoke model here.)

Designing the team structure

To design our team structure, we started the way we start most projects: with a problem statement.

Problem statement

We need to create a brand-new structure for the data team that enables superior scalability, efficiency, innovation, and communication.

Constraints

Once we had our problem statement, we looked at some of the constraints we faced.

  • The data team should scale sub-linearly with the organization. (By this, we mean that if the company grows to, say, 10x its original size, the data team shouldn’t need to grow 10x, too.)

Our Solution

Given the above constraints, we built the first iteration of our solution, which is summarized in the following three team types:

  • Embedded: An embedded team gets activated when we need to deep-dive into an analytical problem.
  • Distributed: A distributed team is fine-tuned within a contextual boundary of a domain and only caters to that domain.
How central, embedded, and distributed teams within the data team interact

Benefits of the hub-and-spoke model

Product/Platform Mindset

Building each product/platform is not just an executional activity based on the hub-and-spoke model; we believe this activity also requires a certain mindset in addition to the model. The Postman data team made a conscious choice to use Objectives & Key Results (OKRs) as a way to standardize that mindset and measure product metrics over time, including tracking our acquired, active, and retained users across every feature that we provide. This product/platform mindset, as embodied by OKRs, along with the power of the hub-and-spoke model, ensures that the data team is moving in the right direction as we continue to democratize data for the entire Postman organization.

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Shubham Bhargav

Dabbler in product, data and organization design. #learning-together